High quality, on-brand photos are absolutely the MOST essential tool you can have for your website. There’s no skirting around the fact that we live in a highly visual world, where aesthetically pleasing images are beyond important to us.
Think of Instagram. It’s a platform built entirely around high quality images. The feeds that boast stunning images are usually the ones that thrive. Look at the profiles that throw dark or pixelated photos up, and you’ll see that these kinds of profiles rarely have a high following. The same concept can be applied to a website.
As a website designer, I’m not always given the best photography to work with. Entrepreneurs are busy, and startups are low on capital, so coming up with beautiful photos for your website doesn’t always seem feasible. But I'm here to tell you that it is possible, regardless of your budget, to get amazing photos that will help to elevate your website. Before I get into how you can get better photos for your website, we need to talk about why it is so important.
WHY YOU NEED TOP QUALITY PHOTOS TO MAKE YOUR WEBSITE SHINE
1. FIRST IMPRESSIONS - YOU’VE GOT ONE CHANCE
You get about 10 seconds to make that killer first impression when someone visits your website. If your message isn’t clear, and your visuals aren’t on-point, you’ve lost a customer. And when you’re working so hard to drive traffic to your website, having someone click away just because your photos are terrible is heartbreaking!
Don’t let this happen to you. Get your photos in line with the image you want to portray so you can capture the attention of potential customers and clients.
2. ESTABLISH YOUR CREDIBILITY
When I was taking a public speaking class in college, we were taught that one of the main objectives when opening a persuasive speech was to establish credibility with our audience. When it comes to this concept, your website strategy is no different than a persuasive speech. When someone visits your site, whether you’re a product-based business, a health coach, a photographer, whatever- one of the main objectives is to persuade the customer to choose your business.
And for someone to want to invest in or buy from you, they need to trust you. So if your website comes across as unprofessional and lacking in credibility, it can be hard to build a solid foundation to win the customer over.
One of the best and easiest ways to show people you’re the real deal is to display high-quality images of your business, your product, and you! This allows your potential clients and customers to evaluate your business in the best possible light. Still not convinced? Next time you come across a stunning website that makes you think, “Wow, this site is beautiful… they must know what they’re doing!”, remember to check out the photos.
Most of the time when I find myself doing this, I find gorgeous and professional photos behind the best site designs. And these great photos play a huge role in those first impressions that subconsciously convince us of a business’s credibility.
3. SHOW YOUR PERSONALITY
If you’re a service-based business, having great images of yourself around your website invites an audience full of strangers to get to know you. From childhood, we’ve been raised to avoid strangers (stranger danger!), so don’t let yourself come across as one on your website. Help people get to know you by utilizing high quality images of yourself that represent your authentic personality.
Infuse your personality into the photos around the rest of your site as well. These can be prop photos, flat-lays, styled scenes, etc. Let's say you run a nutrition and health blog, and this month you have a fresh garden harvest. Grab your camera and shoot some bright photos (like this rainbow beauty from my own garden!) of your latest veggies and use it in your next blog post, or around your site. Special photos like these give your site that extra personal touch. When you’re real and relatable with your audience, they notice and will be more likely to become a fan of your blog, or choose your product or service.
HOW TO FIND AND USE GREAT PHOTOS ON YOUR WEBSITE
When looking for high quality images for your website, you've got two routes to go: free or not free. If you're a start up and strapped for cash, I recommend checking out my favorite spots on the web for free photos (see list below!). While free photos can be awesome, there's always the chance that other people are going to be using the same photos as you. Which is why I recommend having your own custom photos taken, or purchasing high quality stock images (which will have fewer people using them).
1. FREE STOCK PHOTOS
I've created a short list of my absolute favorite free photo sites. All the photos here can be used for commercial use and are royalty free. Best part about them? The photos are creative commons, so you can use these without worrying about attributions.
- UNSPLASH - My favorite go-to free stock photo. They've added a search feature in the last year that makes this site top notch.
- DEATH TO THE STOCK PHOTO - These guys put out amazing collections that you can receive each month for free if you sign up for their email list. They also have a paid section to access all collections of high-end photos.
- SPLITSHIRE - Another resource of easily searchable, commercial-use approved photos.
2. PAID STOCK PHOTOS
- TURQUOISE AND PALM - Boasts beautiful, unique and feminine stock photography at a great subscription price. I love the feminine flat lays and beautiful floral photos included in these photo packs. Turquoise and Palm has created a special offer for Dapper Fox readers- get a yearly subscription for only $147 instead of the $180! Use code: DapperFox16 to redeem. Here's a few of my favs:
- SHUTTERSTOCK - An affordable spot to find beautiful stock photos.
- STOCKSY - A little bit pricier than some of these other stock photo sites, but hosts unique and stunning photos.
3. HIRE A PHOTOGRAPHER
To get completely unique photos that are guaranteed to not be used by anyone else, you're going to want to go the route of hiring a photographer. If this is in your budget, this is a great way to help elevate the aesthetic of your site. You get photos that will be completely customized to your brand, and you get complete control about how you want them to look. When looking for a photographer, make sure to take a look at their portfolio to see if their aesthetic and style matches what you want your photos to look like.
Some things to think about before your photo shoot:
- What to wear. If you're going to be in the photos, make sure that you wear appropriate clothing to your industry. Also consider wearing colors from your brand palette. This can make a huge difference in the final product where your photos are used. Think about it- if your brand colors are greens and blues, you aren't going to want to wear a red shirt that will clash with the rest of your visuals.
- Body Language and Posing. Let's face it, we're not all models. Getting your photos taken can sometimes be a super uncomfortable experience. But making sure that your body language conveys the message you want is definitely worth thinking about. Follow the tips in this Posing Guide for Non-Models and you'll be better prepared for your next photo shoot!
- Where to shoot. This one is very important depending on the industry, but doesn't need to be too crazy. Let's say you're a restaurant that wants to get photos of your staff. Getting great action shots inside the restaurant is important, but you could also utilize the space outside of the restaurant to get head shots done (think rustic brick walls, or garden background).
- What kind of props. Props are super important if you're doing a photo shoot that will include flat lays or styled scenes. When creating photography for my own brand visuals, I bring in items relevant to my line of work: laptops, art supplies, notebooks, coffee (essential for designers!) and more. Think about what kind of objects you can bring to liven up your styled photos, but make sure they fit within your brand colors too. Don't forget about the background for your styled photos! Choosing backgrounds that contrast well with your images will help your images pop. Painted foam core boards, wooden boards, fabric and more can all be used. The Nectar Collective has a great post about finding blog photo backdrops for under $30.
Whether you’re DIYing your site, or working with a designer, great photos are crucial to your brand’s image. Don't let budget stop you from getting killer photos that will make a huge difference for your brand. Using these free tips and tricks on how to get the perfect photos for your brand and website will help you to stand out from the crowd no matter your budget.
What are your photography tips and tricks to help create high quality brand photos?